User Voice - Only Offenders Can Stop Re-Offending

Call for ban on painful restraint for children

A new report published today by the Office of the Children's Commissioner (OCC), and based on research conducted by User Voice, highlights young people's experience of restraint in secure juvenile settings.

The report says international standards must be used as a benchmark for the safe use of restraint in the secure juvenile estate when required as a measure of last resort. The use of sanctioned pain to control children must therefore be abolished.

The publication of the report has received extensive coverage in the media.

A copy of the report can be downloaded here.

New microsite launched

User Voice has today launched a new microsite dedicated to the Excluded Youth project.

This nationwide engagement project reached nearly 600 young people in 6 months ending in a final event with senior policy makers in Parliament. There was too much information gathered to include in the final report, including videos, music, pictures and case studies, that we have decided to put it all online and accessible to all.

The site also includes comments from the young people who participated, a link to the Facebook page with nearly 800 users, updates on taking the recommendations forward and the opportunity for anyone to have their say.

Access the microsite here.

Ministry of Justice Green Paper consultation with offenders

Today User Voice submitted the response to the Ministry of Justice's (MoJ) Green Paper, Breaking the Cycle, from two focus groups held with young people and adults with personal experience of the criminal justice system. The consultations were sponsored by The Ministry of Justice, who recognised the importance of consulting with people with personal experience of the system and the unique ability of User Voice to gain insight from this group.

Participants were asked to respond to a number of questions contained in the Green Paper that were of direct relevance to their own personal experience, categorised under the following headings: punishment and payback, sentencing, working with communities to reduce crime and rehabilitating offenders to reduce crime.

The two focus groups included people from a range of ages, ethnicities, from different areas of the country and from academics and professionals, to those just out of prison and others who are currently on orders.

The submission can be downloaded here.

Youth Justice Board commits to improve practice in response to children and young people’s views

In new research and action plan launched today, the Youth Justice Board (YJB) has made a series of commitments to improve the safeguarding practice of their service providers.

The YJB and Office of the Children's Commission (OCC) commissioned User Voice to consult gather the views of children and young people in Young Offender Institutions, Secure Training Centres, Secure Children’s Homes and those under the supervision of Youth Offending Services in England.

This action plan comes as a direct result of the partnership between the OCC and the YJB listening to the powerful insights of young people about full searches, separation, complaints procedures and help lines in the secure estate. The action plan builds on operational reforms planned by the YJB.

The routine use of full searches will stop across the secure estate; there will be a review of the criteria used to separate young people in custody to manage problems that arise; complaints will be handled more fairly and effectively and; work will be undertaken with the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) and the Samaritans to improve the young people’s access to helpline services.

The safeguarding concerns raised by the young people will now be addressed by the YJB in a series of commitments including:
• Working with NOMS and consulting with young people to redesign the information available to them about the complaints system and delivering training and guidance to improve the quality of staff responses to complaints
• Re-affirming the commitment to only undertake full searches on a risk-led, rather than routine basis
• Providing gowns for the young people in STCs during any necessary full searches
• Working towards phasing out in YOIs the use of separation as a punishment or merely for the use of control.

Download the report, view the press release and joint statement from the YJB, OCC and User Voice here.